Published: Wed, October 18, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Senators Reach Deal to Fund Subsidies to Health Insurers

Senators Reach Deal to Fund Subsidies to Health Insurers

Trump told a conservative audience at the Heritage Foundation that he "commends" the work being done by Sens. Alexander and Murray have tried to negotiate a plan that would require Republicans to agree to fund CSRs if Democrats agreed to allow states to offer some insurance plans that did not comply with some Obamacare regulations.

Trump halted the insurers' payments last week, but has said he wants a bipartisan deal to continue them temporarily. "I commend Senators Alexander and Murray for reaching a bipartisan agreement that will help prevent a twenty percent hike in premiums, fewer coverage choices, and an assault on the deficit". But Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray say in brief interviews that they still have unresolved issues. "According to witnesses at our hearings and according to the Congressional Budget Office, without these cost-sharing reduction payments, premiums will rise, the debt will increase by almost $194 billion over ten years, and up to 16 million Americans may find themselves living in counties where no company sells insurance in the individual market".

President Donald Trump's administration announced last week that it was cutting off the payments, and on Tuesday Trump called the agreement a short-term solution.

Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the plan to a vote on the Senate floor and urged the House of Representatives to take it up then as quickly as possible so Trump can sign it.

Despite his best efforts, Trump is stuck with the reality that Obamacare is still the law of the land and that his own administration is responsible for overseeing the health care system that's been shaped by it.

The two-year deal would allow crucial subsidies to health insurers to start flowing again, potentially lowering insurance premiums for those in the program next year.

Alexander said those plans would retain the minimum coverage requirements under the ACA but could vary the definition of what is affordable.

"It is a short-term solution so that we don't have this very risky little period - including unsafe period for insurance companies, by the way", Trump told a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. It will also encourage states to meld their markets together, and let more people buy low-priced, limited-coverage plans.

"That's a very good solution", Trump said. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee told reporters that he and a top Democrat have reached an agreement on a plan to extend the federal payments that Trump has blocked. "This bailout is unacceptable".

Funding the cost-sharing subsidies would spare insurers more than $1 billion in financial losses this year, and could let them lower premiums for 2018. Trump had cut the budget for ACA outreach by 90 percent earlier this year, a move many advocates said would suppress enrollment.

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